Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Roger Dean Selected Album Covers Part 1: 1969 - 1972

The Hobbit himself. The man responsible, pretty much entirely, for the 'look' of 1970s prog music. From the mid-seventies on (the period looked at more fully in part two), a Roger Dean cover was instantly recognisable - a 'fantasy' landscape, looking like something out of an alien world. Dr. Seuss-like, I suppose.

Ultimately, the style became so recognisable that a band seeking to fit int oa certain demographic would take Dean on knowing that punters in record shops would immedaitely know what they were buying - a great advantage for budding prog-rockers, but it led Dean into self-repetition; people went to him with a very particular look in mind, and he was duty-bound to provide it.

So part two will be both Dean at his 'purest' and at his most cynical - superficially, the two are similar. Here, though, we've got a mixed bag of 'early efforts' - some great, some not. Some looking like his 'style', some not at all. Grwoing pains, I guess.

Earth and Fire - Earth and Fire album cover

Earth and Fire: Earth and Fire: I think the gnarled roots of a tree are creepy, and clearly so does Roger Dean. This early work is not his earliest, but it's one of them. Pen-and-ink, it would seem.

Gun - Gun album cover

Gun: Gun: This would be his very first, apparently, with a dark hellbeast vibe that has little to do with the main Roger Dean style. Reminds me of Gerald Scarfe and his work on Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Lighthouse - One Fine Morning album cover

Lighthouse: One Fine Morning: Very hippie-ish. Of course, Dean's style and the artists he worked with came straight out of the hippie era, but it's odd to see it so carefully aped here.

Dr. Strangely Strange - Heavy Petting album cover

Dr. Strangely Strange - Heavy Petting: A die-cut piece - the early years have several of those. It seems that the three faces are revealed through a die cut, and the entire cover is divided into two (three, in fact) by die-cutting. I don't know what opening the flaps reveals.

Nucleus - Elastic Rock album cover

Nucleus: Elastic Rock: Another die-cut piece, reminiscent of the groundbreaking "Blue Monday" New order sleeve that would come a decade later. Roger Dean certainly worked with a good many nobodies back in the day.

Atomic Rooster - In Hearing of Atomic Rooster album cover

Atomic Rooster: In Hearing of Atomic Rooster: This is a cute pre-rock homage, like It's a Beautiful Day. Humorous.

Midnight Sun - Midnight Sun album cover

Midnight Sun: Midnight Sun: The Roger Dean style is slowly evolving, not least of which the fact that we see that classic 'Roger Dean font' here for the first time. A cast of odd characters, a big frog, a chariot. Surreal.

Osibisa - Osibisa album cover

Osibisa: Osibisa: The first of two for an African-British band. Flying elephant mosquitoes, just like it ought to be.

Osibisa - Woyaya album cover

Osibisa: Woyaya: Osibisa again, with the elephant-mosquito flying over a very Roger Dean-esque pond.

Pete Dello and Friends - Into Your Ears album cover

Pete Dello and Friends: Into Your Ears: An earwig and a caterpillar. And a black outline, and text - this won't survive long.

Ramases - Space Hymns album cover

Ramases: Space Hymns: Quite beautiful, really. Not overly Roger Deanesque, though it still evokes his particular mood. Pretty green.

The Keith Tippett Group - Dedicated to You But You Weren't Listening album cover

The Keith Tippett Group: Dedicated to You But You Weren't Listening: One of th elast we'll see here with a non-'trademark' feel to it. But it's clever as hell, a woman with a baby in her head. I kind of wish Roger Dean hadn't stuck so faithfully to his one particular 'thing'.

Yes - Fragile album cover

Yes: Fragile: And the real legacy begins. The font's not there yet - in fact, nothing is, really It's a fantasy landscape, but it's an entire planet, and it doesn't really have that classic Roger Dean 'feel' quite yet.

Babe Ruth - First Base album cover

Babe Ruth: First Base: I doubt baseball is very much Roger Dean's thing. But what to do with a project where the band and the album are both named for Baseball?

Gentle Giant - Octopus album cover

Gentle Giant: Octopus: A wee bit too literal? It's called Octopus, here's an octopus. What more do you want?

Gracious!! - This is Gracious!! album cover

Gracious!! - This is Gracious!!: No idea who Gracious!! are, but I like this naughty stained-glass idea a lot.

Midnight Sun - Walking Circles album cover

Midnight Sun: Walking Circles: Several thousand years ago, a mutant half-human half-meerkat frose to death on an ice floe. Reminds me of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth today.

Paladin - Charge! album cover

Paladin: Charge!: Well, literal - a horse charging. But it's no 'Octopus redux' - the horse seems vaguely cyborg-like, and the rider seems vaguely horsey. I don't get it, but interesting.

The John Dummer Band - Blue album cover

The John Dummer Band: Blue: A die-cut masterpiece: look at it carefully to figure it out. The 'cover' itself is nothing more than a pink box with two clouds cut into it. Neither is what might be the inner side of a gatefold or what might be an inner sleeve: the 'goods' are all contained on 'layer three'. It's beautiful, even if it's not quite the right colour for the album title, and even if presumably a bit of use subjected this cover to horrid wear-and-tear.

Third Ear Band - Music From Macbeth album cover

Third Ear Band: Music From Macbeth: Well, the title screams 'prog'. This is a creepy cover of three people doing something intimate and probably unpleasant. the witches? But where is their cauldron? And whence the bubble, bubble, toil and trouble?

Uriah Heep - Demons and Wizards album cover

Uriah Heep: Demons and Wizards: I must admit - this looks like a high schooler parodying Roger Dean. It's all a bit too obvious, isn't it?

Various Artists - Motown Chartbusters, Vol. Six album cover

Various Artists: Motown Chartbusters, Vol. Six: How Barry Gordy got Dean's number I'll never know, and why Dean deigned to design a cover for a knock-off 'Now That's What I Call Music' type compilation I'll never know. But it's the incogruity that gets me. Giant bugship, yay.

Yes - Close to the Edge album cover

Yes: Close to the Edge: And with his 'muses' Yes, Roger Dean manages to subvert his 'look' before he's even truly established it. I guess there are standard-Dean landscapes elsewhere in this package, but the cover is all green. Thick green fog on Planet Dean that day? Don't ask me why, but I like it.


  1. Special stuff here. Some of it makes me feel very nostalgic for the old gate fold. I love his mid-period Yes creations and the Osibisa elephants are cool. Top marks for Budgie.

  2. Hey... I dare say I'm the best album cover designer in music history. EX: Google CHINK FLOYD and look on their myspace for the numerous funny / innovative posters and album art I did for them. Thousands more on request!

  3. Lioghthouse "One Fine Morning" is NOT a Roger Dean cover.

  4. Did you know that you can create short urls with AdFly and make cash for every visitor to your short links.

  5. There is SHOCKING news in the sports betting world.

    It's been said that every bettor must watch this,

    Watch this or stop betting on sports...

    Sports Cash System - Sports Betting ROBOT


    Get professional trading signals sent to your mobile phone every day.

    Start following our trades right now & profit up to 270% daily.